My mom had been acting strangely for at least two years when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in the spring of 2004. It is with a sense of grief-tinged wonder that I realize our lives have been impacted by her Alzheimer's disease for 15 years. It is too easy to begin to think in terms of what I've lost because of this enforced caregiving assignment when I ought to focus on the many ways our needs have been provided. Like the Israelites who wandered in the desert, I'm in danger of taking manna for granted.
When God is with us we have no business envying other people. To complain at length about what I have lost is to ignore a balance sheet upon which truly amazing blessings have far outweighed any losses I've sustained.
When we forget that the body of Christ has different members with varying gifts and assignments, we become vulnerable to a sense that it is unfair that others have been given what we would very much like to have had. It is the enemy who whispers "They are better than you..." or, more damning for the unfortunate victims of our jealousy: "They think they are better than you." A sense of having been downtrodden then blinds us to our own unique blessings and creates a fertile ground for jealousy to take root. We feel justified in ignoring suffering when it happens to someone the enemy has convinced us "deserves it."
The destructive and hurtful results of covetousness are a hard heart toward the suffering of others coupled with a sense of entitlement. In its extreme form, jealousy of what others have is at the root of many crimes. Sinful logic says that if you have what I have always wanted then it's only right for you to take a hard knock so I can feel better; you didn't deserve what you have, and I have never gotten what I deserve.
I have been praying to be protected from the envy of others and that my own heart stays clean of jealousy toward other people. Since I've been thinking in this way it's as though my eyes have been opened to how behaviors ranging from petty to cruel have their roots in one person's envy of another. Let's pray in this way:
Lord protect us from the hard-heartedness and lack of compassion of jealousy in our own hearts, and keep us from being harmed by the covetousness of others toward us. Keep us from being blind to the suffering of another person simply because we see that person as having been blessed in ways we are not, and make us aware of the many ways You have provided for us all along our life journeys. In Jesus' Name we pray, amen.
You are not to plunder this nation because the Eternal your God, has blessed you in every way. He’s watched over you as you’ve journeyed through this vast wilderness. Throughout these 40 years, the Eternal your God has been with you, and you haven’t lacked a thing.
--Deuteronomy 2:7 The Voice--